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Tips for reading textbooks.

  1. Feb 8, 2013 #1
    This may sound weird if you can't relate. So I managed to squeak through my entire undergrad career and get accepted to a "top 10" PhD program without ever actually reading a Physics textbook cover to cover.

    I basically just cherry-picked the topics I needed to do problems sets and skipped the rest. Now I'm ready for grad school in the Fall, but quals have got me spooked. How am I supposed to pass if I've never been through the whole Griffiths? (neither one) So I set out to try and read some textbooks to get/stay sharp, but I feel like the words are bouncing off my eyes --like I'm not learning anything. It was so easy with an instructor to explain it before reading it, but now it's like I get stuck on one page for half an hour because I'm having trouble focusing ("wait, what did I just read again?")

    Surely someone knows the feeling I'm talking about. All this just to ask... does anyone who has experienced this focus problem have any tips on self-teaching from a book? I'm not well suited to this learning style., and it doesn't help that some of these textbooks are pretty dry.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2013 #2

    jbunniii

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    I doubt that most people read their textbooks cover to cover. I can think of maybe 2 that I have finished in my lifetime, and they were both pretty thin. For the rest, I dip into them as needed. In any case, studying for qualifying exams is more about doing problems (especially those on old qualifying exams) than about reading books cover to cover. Read the material as needed in order to accomplish this.
     
  4. Feb 20, 2013 #3

    Meir Achuz

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    I didn't work much in UG, but grad school is different.
    Concentrate on your courses, take notes and learn from your teachers.
    You can be selective in reading a textbook.
    Concentrate on problems, especially those in the course.
    Don't spend too much time on Jackson's problems.
     
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